Thursday, November 05, 2015

Bolts from the blue

A Guardian investigation reveals that many US police departments have struggled to regulate Tasers, despite dozens of deaths after their use this year – and researchers who argue the weapons can be lethal

Oliver Laughland in New York, Jamiles Lartey in Coconut Creek, Florida, and Ciara McCarthy
Last modified on Thursday 5 November 2015 09.59 EST
The Guardian

Calvon Reid writhed in pain before he died. “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” the 39-year-old screamed. Reid, an African American father of two, was held face-down by two police officers on a grassy lawn inside a predominantly white, gated retirement village in the south Florida suburb of Coconut Creek in the early hours of 22 February.

Moments before, two officers, standing 10ft away, had deployed their weapons in tandem. Not guns, but Tasers. The barbs struck Reid in the chest, according to eyewitnesses, unleashing 50,000-volt shocks to his body. Reid stopped breathing within moments; two days later, he died in the hospital.

“The whole thing seemed brutal,” 58-year-old locksmith John Arnendale told the Guardian from the ground-floor apartment at Wynmoor Village retirement homes where he watched Reid lose consciousness for the last time.

It is not clear why the officers were trying to arrest Reid in the first place. He was not accused of any crime. Though police say he was acting aggressively, other witnesses have disputed this.

“They didn’t have to use a Taser to stop him,” Arnendale said. “There were four of them and he wasn’t huge or particularly athletic. They certainly didn’t choose the least harsh thing to do with him. They were kind of punishing him.”

(More here.)

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